On Tuesday, Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe announced that through the Transitional Housing Ad-Hoc Committee, they are proposing $300k to be spent on housing services for homeless.
The program, called the Louie Rocha Emergency Housing Plan, would be focused around getting homeless in the downtown area near the railroad tracks off the streets and into housing in the City of Pittsburg.
The announcement came after Thorpe attended a candlelight vigil for Louie Rocha who last week was struck by a train while trying to cross the railroad tracks to use a public restroom.
“His death along with many others around the nation symbolizes everything that is contrary to our American values,” said Thorpe. “Individualism doesn’t free me, or any of you, from the greater good of the we which is needed for community cohesion.”
Thorpe was critical of former President Ronald Reagan for proclaiming that “government is not the solution to our problem government is a problem” in 1981.
“In my humble opinion, President Reagan couldn’t have been more wrong,” said Thorpe. “When I was born in prison, state government provided me with stability and placing me in foster care with the appropriate support systems until I was 18-years-old. Thank god government stepped up to help me when I had no one else to turn to.”
Thorpe stated although things were not easy, it was the stability provided by government that allowed him to join the Navy and succeed—then complete college through federal grants and loans while providing him an opportunity to buy a home.
“Since President Reagan, and every president since him, including members of my own political party, have overseen major cuts and reforms to social safety net of our county which has helped push and keep many more people into poverty, housing insecurity, and homelessness,” said Thorpe.
Thorpe explained over the past two years, the City of Antioch has worked on leasing the Executive Inn on 18th Street with wrap around services to provide stability for those living on the streets of Antioch.
He announced the Antioch Planning Commission, after working on this for a year-and-a-half, tomorrow will discuss this issue—if approved, it moves to the City Council after 30-days.
“Today, I am announcing a joint proposal by Councilmember Mike Barbanica and I called the Louie Rocha Emergency Housing Plan which authorizes an additional $300k towards homeless services,” stated Thorpe. “Specially, to secure 15-rooms from Contra Costa County at the Motel 6 in Pittsburg for individuals living along active railroad tracks in and around downtown Antioch.”
Jazmin Ridley, Antioch Unhoused Resident Coordinator, said in response to the recent death, reached out to homeless in the area to explain dangers of living along the railroad tracks and provide update of housing opportunities—an interest list was created.
“We have provided short-term motel vouchers to address immediate needs,” said Ridley. “As of today, we are housing a total of 22-people and 6-pets for short-term stays.”
Ridley further highlighted the further Motel 6 in the City of Pittsburg, now called the Delta Landing Interim Housing, will reopen its doors next moth which includes wrap around support services including medical, benefit assistant, behavior health, case management, housing navigation and rapid rehousing assistance.
Thorpe called on community support stating the program would not work if the community allows this to be a dangerous haven.
“I really hope every homeless advocate, every single person who in their heart is doing the work of the lord by feeding folks down here, providing them with toiletries, recognize that this is a dangerous location for anybody to be residing,” stated Thorpe. “I need folks to understand that as we work to push people to the hotel, move them to get stability, its important for you to partner with us to ensure we get folks there. Feeding people here, having people be here, its not safe. We can’t allow that to happen. This is just too dangerous.”
Thorpe also highlighted the Antioch Police Department, Code Enforcement, and Abatement team will meet to produce a plan to proactively serve as a referral mechanism to these programs and to ensure people are not living along the railroad tracks.
“We have to provide balance by providing opportunity but also a mechanism to encourage folks to move to the hotel,” said Thorpe.
The item will go before the Antioch City Council on December 14 who will need to approve the $300k spend. The program will begin on Dec. 16 and in the interim folks will stay at the Executive Inn.
He then offered his condolences to the Rocha family.
“This wasn’t a failure of the railroad track, a failure of a city hall, failure of an advocate, failure of me or you, this was a failure of our collective community that we have allowed people to be on our streets.” stated Thorpe. “This is everybody’s responsibly, we have to encourage and work hard to get people into housing.”
Ridley further highlighted the program which the City of Antioch will have access to 15-beds at any given time which attendees would receive services aimed at getting them into stable housing. She anticipated the timing could take is based on individual needs and individual approach which on average is 120-days for people to work through the services.
“As each bed becomes available, people on the list will then be served with the opportunity,” said Ridley. “Depending on the time it takes for successful placement, new rooms will be available on an ongoing basis for up to a 1-year period as currently conceived.”